Canada: Drunk driving laws in B.C. upheld by Supreme Court of Canada
Case challenged automatic driving bans, car impoundments for those who blow over .08 on screening device
October 16, 2015
B.C.s policy of handing out automatic roadside prohibitions to drivers who test over the legal limit for alcohol is constitutional, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled.
The ruling released Friday backs B.C.’s use of roadside checks and automatic driving bans as a measure of safety.
“It establishes a common standard for removing drivers from the road who pose an elevated risk to others. It also serves to deter drunk driving,” said the ruling released in Ottawa.
In November 2014, Canada’s highest court agreed to hear two cases involving B.C. drivers who were stopped by police at roadside checks. The case was heard in Canada’s highest court in May 2015.
In one case a man got a warning after blowing into a roadside screening device.
Lee Michael Wilson received a three-day driving ban in September 2012 after the roadside device registered a blood-alcohol level in the warning range.
He took the issue to B.C. Supreme Court, which dismissed the roadside prohibition, saying there was no evidence indicating Wilson’s ability to drive was affected by alcohol.
But the B.C. Court of Appeal later overturned the lower court’s ruling.
The other case involves a group of B.C. drivers who either refused to give a breath sample or registered a fail on a roadside screening device.
They challenged the province’s automatic roadside prohibitions for those who blow over .08 on a screening device.
In James Goodwin’s case, court records say he did not provide a “suitable” breath sample after a stop in 2011.
Goodwin was prohibited from driving for 90 days and his vehicle was impounded for 30 days.